The Election of 1968

The 1968 election is election that lead to the rise of Richard Nixon. While he had run before in 1960, Nixon didn’t manage to gain control of the United States until this election. In his book, 1968: The Election That Changed America, Lewis Gould describe the race of Republican nominee Richard M. Nixon, along with running mate Spiro Agnew, against Hubert Humphrey and his running mate Edmund Muskie. Gould point out many things that led to the Republican victory but some of the major problems of this campaign are the disorganization of the Democrats and race relations.

The democrats were extremely disorganized. There were several people vying for the Democratic Nomination, including Robert Kennedy, Eugene McCarthy, and Vice President Hubert Humphrey. While many believed that Lyndon Johnson would attempt for reelection, he announced his would not seek the nomination, mainly due to his health and the toll that the Vietnam War had taken on him. The biggest sign of their disorganization was the fact that they held their Democratic National Convention in Chicago, a city that was embroiled in anti-war protests, which cumulated in the Chicago Riots.


In addition to the anti-war protest were the racial tensions that had been on the rise in the 60’s. These were, as Gould argued, the more pressing concerns of this election. Despite the Civil Rights Act of 1964, many African Americans believed that they had not gone far enough in their push for equality, and many believed that the Johnson Administration was too slow at delivering it to them. In addition, many anti-segregationists thought that the act had pushed too far, leading to the rise of George Wallace as a third party candidate, who appealed to American voters due to his anti-segregation sentiment.

Ultimately the election was a landslide in favor in Nixon, who ended up with more than one hundred more electoral votes more that Humphrey and the divided Democratic Party.


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